The Blessing of the Palms & the Solemn Eucharist of the Passion

Sunday, April 17, 2011
Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

The liturgies on the morning of Palm Sunday are designed by the Book of Common Prayer to take us through the week to come. So, since this is Holy Week, Palm Sunday covers both the triumphant entry into Jerusalem (the Blessing of the Palms and the Palm Procession) as well as Christ's Passion, which we unpack each day of the rest of the week. The idea here is that a person could attend church only on Sundays and still participate in the entirety of Holy Week and Easter: Palm Sunday takes us through Christ's Crucifixion, and then Easter Sunday celebrates Christ's Resurrection.

Of course, we're not suggesting you skip the rest of Holy Week—indeed, we encourage you to spend the entire week with us. But if you are wondering why the morning liturgies on Palm Sunday end with Christ Crucified, you now have your answer. The church is structured so that Sunday worshippers get the gist. If you seek more than the gist, you're in luck: at Saint Thomas, we know how to dwell on the details. You are most welcome to join us as we mark each day of Holy Week in scripture, song, meditation and prayer.

Even if you cannot join us in person for everything, please know that all choral services throughout the week are webcast live and then available on-demand.

Almighty and everliving God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

11:00 AM


Above: Using the aspergillum, Fr Mead blesses the palms held by the people.

Please note: There is no coffee hour in the Parish House following. The Bookstore, however, will be open following the 11am Solemn Eucharist. 

‚ñ∫The Rector speaks of Holy Week in his Weekly Audio Message.

‚ñ∫John Scott discusses the music of Holy Week in his Weekly Music Notes.

‚ñ∫Download a printable 4-page brochure for Holy Week and Easter.


Service notes: The liturgy begins with the acolytes, choir and clergy entering as the choir sings the Introit. The three sacred ministers stop at the Canterbury Stone, front and center within the chancel.

The Celebrant says “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord:”

The People shout, “Hosanna in the highest!”

The Celebrant then says the Opening Collect and the Deacon reads the Palm Sunday Gospel (Matthew 21:1-11), and then the palms are blessed by the Celebrant, using the aspergillum, as the choir sings the anthem.

A two-hymn Procession follows, with thurfier, acolytes, vexillaries, choir, clergy and Sunday School children all winding through the nave, up and down the aisles, until finally approaching the High Altar.

The Celebrant then chants the Salutation and the Collect of the Day, the Old Testament Lesson (Isaiah 50:4-9a) is read by the lector, the Psalm is sung by the choir, the Epistle (Philippians 2:5-11) is read by the Subdeacon, and once again the congregation sings a hymn. During the final verse, the three cantors are blessed by the Celebrant and move into position in the pulpit, the lectern and the Sanctuary gate.

The cantors sing the Passion according to Saint Matthew. At the first mention of the arrival at Golgatha, the congregation stands. At the mention of the death of Jesus, all kneel in silence, and then stand.

Following the Passion, the Rector greets the congregation and the Eucharist proceeds as usual. All baptized Christians are invited to receive Holy Communion at the High Altar or at the Chantry rail.

After the Blessing and Dismissal, a hymn is sung in place, and then the acolytes, choir and clergy depart in silence, after which the congregation also departs in silence.

CelebrantFr. Mead
PreacherFr. Mead
DeaconFr. Spurlock
SubdeaconFr. Austin
Sung byThe Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys
AnthemHosanna to the Son of David, Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)
SettingMissa Brevis, Jackson Hill (b. 1941)
Psalm22:1-11, Plainsong (Tone II1)
The Passion According to Saint MatthewTomás Luis de Victoria (1545-1611)
MotetImproperium expectavit, Orlandus Lassus (1532-1594)
AnthemO Domine Jesu Christe, Tomás Luis de Victoria